May 7, 2021
Re: A little-known Trans-Canada digital identity regime in the works, in whose interest? by Ken Rubin, The Hill Times, May 3, 2021.
In his column, “A little-known Trans-Canada digital identity regime in the works, in whose interest?”, Ken Rubin inaccurately writes that “On the legislative front, business-backed groups like the Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada are calling for revamping Canada’s outdated public-sector Privacy Act to allow for a more permissive legal regime that clears the way for digital IDs and one-stop digitized government services. … Canadian governments need to hit ‘pause’ and rethink their digital identity scheme and digital legislation which are pushing sufficient and secure privacy protection largely aside.”
The Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) was created following the federal government’s Task Force for the Payments System Review to bring together public and private sector partners in developing a safe and secure digital ID ecosystem that will enable Canada’s full and beneficial participation in the global digital economy.
The DIACC has more than 100 members spanning several sectors including public policy leaders and chief information officers from the federal and provincial governments, networks for payments and for identity verification, technology service providers, strategy and integration experts and financial institutions.
The DIACC fully shares the author’s concern for Canadian’s privacy. This concern is why, for 10 years, the DIACC has built up this important sector as the trusted voice for driving the development of a pan-Canadian trust framework, standards, and initiatives that support the establishment of a fully digital, and privacy-respecting country that Canadians want. DIACC prioritizes a federated approach to work in alignment with Canada’s federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigienous governments. This approach does not support linking of identities, rather, it leverages and extends Privacy by Design principles to enable Canadians to choose which identity credentials they wish to use respecting diversity and promoting inclusion.
According to recent research, the majority of Canadians believe it is important for federal and provincial governments to move quickly on enabling digital ID in a safe and secure manner. It also shows that collaboration between governments and the private sector continues to be considered the best approach to create a pan-Canadian digital ID framework.
In today’s digital economy, and as the pandemic has made clear, Canadians should be empowered to give informed consent for its use across multiple platforms and in economic areas where proving identity is crucial for secure transactions.
Establishing digital ID that works for Canadians is not about creating one identity to be used for surveillance or tracking. It’s about using the credentials that Canadians already have offline (eg: passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, citizenship cards, bank cards, student cards); having those credentials securely issued digitally; and being able to use them for digital transactions — from opening a bank account from the comfort of home, to accessing medical records, to receiving government benefits quickly and easily.
When it comes to legislation, there is no clear policy directive in C-11 that allows Canadians to understand what they can expect in terms of accessing the data the public services have about them. This is why it’s essential for the federal government to empower Canadians to be able to use the credentials associated with them in a modern digital economy, with security and privacy. If Canada is going to be a modern digital society and economy, Canadians must understand what they can expect about data that exists about them in both the public and private sectors.
Canadian governments should not ‘hit pause’ on digital ID, they should be investing in truly unlocking digital. Investing in digital ID not only makes economic sense but also establishes digital tools to support societal trust, provides security, strengthens privacy, and mitigates fraud. This is a win for all.
President, Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada